3 Things I Thought I Knew About Photo Marketing and Becoming a Professional Photographer – WRONG!

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Author: Dan Eitreim

Back when I first decided on becoming a professional photographer and get involved with photo marketing on a full time basis, I thought - foolishly - that all I had to do was practice and study all the latest techniques for creating stunning images! Then, once I learned to consistently do brilliant work, my career as a professional photographer would be more or less cast in stone.

Boy was I wrong! If you want to earn great money in photo marketing (I've lost count of how many $1000 days I've had) by becoming a professional photographer and working in the career of your dreams - here are 3 vital things you NEED to know. BTW - you can and should start part time!

First, let me establish a few assumptions on my part. I assume you are interested in photography and that you have dreamed about working in a career that you love.

I also assume that you are either considering/dreaming about becoming a professional photographer or possibly have already tried your hand at photo marketing - at least part time.

Photographer..  :P.
Photographer.. :P. by Nupur Dasgupta on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

Note: I didn't assume you are a brilliant photographer. That was the first huge hurdle I faced when I wanted to start my photo marketing career. I just wasn't that good. I was and still am competent, but I don't see myself ever winning any major creative awards.

I'd shoot and shoot. Remember - this was in the olden days of film, when every shot cost about a dollar after considering time, film, developing and printing costs. No matter how much money I pumped into my "hobby", no matter how many credit cards I maxed out buying the latest and greatest, I just couldn't measure up to the photos I was seeing in all the photo books and magazines.

My dreams of a career as a professional photographer seemed totally out of reach.

Myth #1. You have to be a brilliant "shooter!" Wrong... You don't need to be Ansel Adams! Just competent!

I don't remember where, but somewhere I stumbled across someone who said, "There's room in professional photography for every skill level."

That sentence changed my life. I'd buy the originator of that little snippet of gold a beer, if I could remember who it was.

For some reason, it really hit home and I decided to give photo marketing a try. Bottom line...I found out that 90% of all your photo shoots are going to be the same types of subjects, lit and posed the same basic ways.

Don't get me wrong, every session you do should be your absolute best work, but save the creative stuff for contests - not day to day photo marketing. (Actually, if you are too creative, your sales will drop. The clients expect traditional portraits and don't like it if you deviate very far from their expectations.)

Myth #2 - You need a fancy studio to be a professional photographer. WRONG.

My second major hurdle to becoming a professional photographer was getting the money to open a studio. After all, rent is fairly expensive and when you add in decorating the space, signage, hiring a receptionist, utilities and all the other doodads involved in opening a physical studio - it can all be rather daunting. Particularly when you've never done any photo marketing and this dream of becoming a professional photographer is getting more and more expensive by the minute.

Studio Lighting Setup
Studio Lighting Setup by 9volts on flickr (licensed CC-BY-ND)

Before I launched my photo marketing career, I did a little research and discovered that the best professional photographers do a lot - if not most - of their work "on location!" In other words, they aren't even using the studio! Plus, their customers were so happy the photographer was coming to them, they were willing to pay extra!

So I said to myself, "I can pay a ton of money for a studio I won't be using, or simply do everything 'on location' and get even higher fees! Hmmm...what should I do?"

I've been a professional photographer for over 20 years, have over 6000 past clients and have NEVER opened a studio.

Location photo shoot
Untitled by Astragony on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

Myth #3 - As a professional photographer, once people see your stunning images they will flock to you with checkbook in hand! WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Sorry to say it but your images have little to do with your success in becoming a professional photographer. While being able to do good work is important (if you are truly a bad photographer, no amount of marketing is going to give you long term success), it's all about your marketing. Once you get your marketing right, people actually will be clamoring for your services, but not before...

In fact, many of my best promotions get new customers lining up to be photographed without ever having seen any of my work at all! So, if becoming a professional photographer sounds even a little intriguing, get started today! Check out my website to get all the photo skills you need then start promoting your work...it's easy!

About the Author

I know how hard it can be to try and capture your creative vision with a camera, but if you really want to be creative you'll need to learn a couple methods that work amazingly well...They are simple to pick up, work right away and don't take any practice - you can read how to do it in my free ebook "Secrets To Creating Stunning Photos!"

Don't give up hope, it's NOT impossible. To learn how to put that elusive "WOW" factor into your photography - go here: http://www.OnTargetPhotoTraining.com

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August 10th, 2012 at 7:04 pm

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